Reformists suffer from a kind of pathology. They believe in the possibility of “fixing” existing systems like the government or the economy, by way of making new laws or mobilizing support to institute new policies about how those systems operate. I say they suffer from a kind of pathology becuz believing in the potential of “reform” is kind of like believing in unicorns and magical beans.
At the root, when we’re talking about reform, we’re talking about a strategy for ASKING those in authority to exercise their authority differently. Unlike revolutionaries or insurrectionists, who seek to topple those in authority or to disassemble authority all together, reformists want to WORK WITH authorities to get authorities to WORK WITH them.
But consider this: Every change to an existing system is a “reform.” Right? Before the change, whatever it is, it was doing one thing; now, after the change, it does something else. So, reforms are occurring constantly, and reforms have been occurring from the very beginning of swivelization when humans made the mistake of settling in one place and growing crops.
Six thousand years or more of constant reforms has gotten us to this hot mess of mayhem that reformists now seek to reform.
Reformists are the ones who have been digging for 6,000 years in an effort to get out of a hole, only to find it getting deeper, so they now commit themselves to digging twice as fast.
Right. Pathology. Doing something for 6,000 years, over and over, expecting a favorable result… as if more of the problem is the solution to the problem.
And the thing is, even the reformists know what they do is an exercise in futility. Just ask a reformist some time, “How long before the system is perfected? What’s your timeline?” And that’s a valid question, isn’t it? I mean, they ARE trying to fix the system… So how long before it’s fixed, before we no longer need to tinker with it? How long before it simply works?
A reformist will stare at you with blank eyes, like a cow watching a passing train. No answer. No answer becuz a reformist, deep down, doesn’t believe– any more than you or I do –that a system like a government or an economy can be fixed and left to run perfectly well. Even reformists, for all of their talk of fixing a system, cannot conceive of an endpoint when the system is fixed, when reformists stop reforming, when lawmakers stop lawmaking, when everything is finally in its proper place and functioning fine.
So just imagine for a moment if auto makers shared this reformist mindset in manufacturing. If auto makers thought like reformists, everywhere you drive, you would have a team of mechanics running alongside your vehicle, tinkering with it as you go. They would never stop modifying your vehicle the whole time you own it. They would NEVER get done fixing it.
But what’s WORSE for reformists, the machine they’re working on is 6,000 years old. They’re still running alongside it, trying to get it running properly. What do I know? I’m a captive at a super duper max, a former gas station attendant. But I have a question to throw out there: If you have a machine you haven’t been able to fix after 6,000 years, and if you don’t even have a reasonable timeline for predicting when the machine will be running smoothly all on its own, isn’t it time to stop trying to fix it… To recognize the machine sucks… And to just scrap it once and for all?
Reformists are the parents who stay up all night before Christmas morning, trying to follow the nonsensical instructions and piece together that stupid, complicated toy… Failing over and over… Frustrated… For 6,000 years.
Where’s the plastic toggle switch? And why do I have these screws left over? Oh, what the fuck?!
Yeah. Like that.
And even when reformists succeed, they fail. Consider the example of prison reformists who seek furloughs and better conditions, conjugal visits and community diversions. You realize, not so long ago, all those things were staples of the prison system– and were taken out. So that means earlier generations of reformists already succeeded and achieved those reforms… That were later taken away. And modern day reformists seek to reintroduce reforms they know were introduced before… And will be taken away again.
So… Reformists are people who struggle to get the solution they had yesterday… So they can get it back today… Even though it will be taken away tomorrow.
THAT’S the recipe for perpetual wheel spinning. The time for fixing the machine is past. Let’s liberate ourselves from the reformist pathology and disssemble this unfixable machine once and for all.
For Ihsan, this is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain from Ohio’s supermax facility. If you’re listening, you are the resistance… Read more »